Coronavirus: OCBC Arena, OCBC Aquatic Centre closed to public from May 21

The Singapore Sports Hub said the arrangement will ensure athletes can train in their own bubbles with no cross-exposure with the public. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Sports Hub announced on Thursday (May 20) that it will be closing the OCBC Arena, where indoor sports such as badminton and basketball are staged, and the OCBC Aquatic Centre, from Friday "till further notice".

This, it said, is "to facilitate the safe and uninterrupted training of our Team Singapore athletes during Phase 2: Heightened Alert".

It explained that "this arrangement will ensure athletes can train in their own bubbles with no cross-exposure with the public" and was done in view of the upcoming Olympic, Paralympic and SEA Games.

This move affects the facilities for 11 sports - badminton, basketball, boccia, netball, table tennis, volleyball, fencing, rhythmic gymnastics, silat, swimming and diving.

The heightened phase two measures, which include limiting sport and physical activities to groups of two, took effect last Sunday and will end on June 13.

Para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu was grateful to have a safe space to train as she prepares for the Tokyo Paralympics.

Yip, 29, said: "The safety of everyone is of paramount importance and we appreciate the sacrifices everyone has had to make this past year. As athletes, we recognise it is a privilege to continue training amid the Covid-19 pandemic."

Swimming's national training centre head coach Gary Tan said: "The closure of the OCBC Aquatic Centre for our swimmers and divers is a good initiative.

"With the current rate and scale of infections in Singapore, creating a bubble and safe haven for our athletes is most ideal for them to train within. This allows them to carry out their hard training and work towards their medal goals."

Robert Lim, Singapore Badminton Association's secretary general and vice-president for pathway and development, added: "Being able to train consistently is key in allowing our players to maintain their edge on the court. The Singapore Badminton Association is very grateful to the Singapore Sports Hub for their strong support in ensuring that our training venue at OCBC Arena would be a safe and contained environment.

"These measures are important to help keep our players safe, prevent possible infections from the new more virulent strains, and allow them to continue training amidst these difficult times."

There are no active bookings for the OCBC Arena's facilities as it had been closed to the public since Sunday, while swim pass holders have been informed that their pass validity will be extended.

However, some recreational users frequent these facilities felt that the measures were too extreme.

On the Sports Hub's Facebook post about the closure of these facilities, Vivian Wang said: "I fully support our athletes' right to safe training. But for those of us who regularly go to the Aquatic Centre for our own personal regimen, this is too sudden and a slight overkill."

The recreational swimmer felt that it would have been sufficient to limit the use of the facilities to the training pool with "proper safety management measures", adding: "We are all responsible adults who can fully comprehend the significance of staying healthy and safe during this time."

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